‘Suicide Squad’ Review: Dawn of Injustice

Suicide-Squad-banner-900x400“Own that shit!” Harley Quinn chants. “Own it.” The squad spends some downtime at a bar. Naturally, things get personal. El Diablo, the last to reveal what he’s done, confesses his sins. The squad is startled to hear his story, that of a family he loved. A family he killed. Harley, dropping the glam and the hysteria, tells Diablo to own up to it. It’s part of him. He can either continue to hide it, or wear it on his sleeve. Suicide Squad wants to own up to its tagline (Worst. Heroes. Ever.) but seems terribly afraid of taking the plunge. It has all the right ingredients – a colorful canvas, a talented cast, and a bold premise. But the film cuts and runs from its own potential at nearly every turn. Perhaps Amanda Waller should’ve injected a nanite explosive in the film itself.  Continue reading

‘Batman v Superman’ Review: Extended Cut Ultimately Doesn’t Do the Film Justice

batman-v-superman-blu-ray-cover-slice-600x200I keep going back to the scene in the desert. Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are meeting with a torrential warlord. Olsen takes harmless photos of the interview when Anatoli intervenes. There’s something distinctly meta about this scene. Olsen, a surrogate for director Zack Snyder, and Anatoli, a stand-in for an overbearing studio with an agenda of their own. Anatoli plucks the camera from Olsen, extracts the roll of film and exposes the negative, desecrating the pictures into ruin. Considering Olsen’s doomed fate, I can’t think of a better metaphor that captures the trials that plagued Batman v Superman in the editing suite. Snyder, the idealistic filmmaker, has a vision. But he is beholden to the studio the same way Olsen is beholden to Luthor’s henchman. This gave us the theatrical cut, which Snyder admirably stood by. The Ultimate Edition (the supposed compromise between the studio and Snyder’s original vision) was meant to realign what was supposed to be the greatest fight card in the history of the world. But does a longer movie equate to a better one? Yes and no.  Continue reading

‘10 Cloverfield Lane’ Review: Nobody Puts Mary Elizabeth Winstead in a Bunker

Mary-Elizabeth-Winstead-John-Goodman-10-Cloverfield-LaneWhen Cloverfield came out in 2008, no one knew what to make of it. It was a monster movie that ignored all the rules. The film was shot found-footage style; it cast a bunch of unknowns to lend truth to the premise; and the origins of the monster remained a mystery to the very end. So it’s surprising that 10 Cloverfield Lane shares some DNA with its “predecessor” considering it’s the anti-Cloverfield in so many ways, which is probably why people are still scratching their heads over it. Director Dan Trachtenberg ditches the shaky cam and the canvas of a city under siege and confines us to a bunker where a different kind of monster lurks altogether. As the tagline suggests, “Monsters come in many forms.” The movie itself is about many things, but ultimately 10 Cloverfield Lane tells a harrowing story about abuse – a fable that, in the light of so many domestic violence and college rape accounts, hits strikingly close to home.  Continue reading

‘Captain America: Civil War’ Review: A Superhero Smackdown for the Ages

heroes-captain-america-civil-war-slice-600x200“I can do this all day,” Steve Rogers once said in the face of adversity. The words are a measure of his resolve and his unflinching determination to do the right thing. Rogers has indeed come a long way from holding a trashcan lid in that alleyway. Those same words get a nostalgic repeat in Civil War, but is tinged with loss and heartbreak. Because Rogers isn’t facing a bully anymore, but a friend. So what does doing the right thing mean if your own friend is in the way? Where do you compromise, if at all? And how long can you keep fighting until something breaks for good?  Continue reading

‘The Witch’ Review: Something Wicked This Way Comes

new-witch-bannerMuch has been said about the baby-snatching witch and the ominous Black Phillip (a goat that may or may not be a stand in for Lucifer), but the most chilling image in The Witch is that of the woods. Having been banished from the village, a family sets out into the wilderness of the unknown. They join hands and pray for a safe journey, unaware that they are embracing the very fear that will soon beset them. A screech of violins looms in the background, infused with the blood-curling moans of sirens as the camera zooms in on the nearby tree-line. We might as well be staring into the gates of Hell. Even more foreboding, perhaps we are.  Continue reading